A sudden sensation of dizziness can be alarming. Dizziness is a general term used to describe spinning, light headedness, off balance, or falling to name a few. Rest assured that in most cases this is not a sign of a serious health condition. You are not alone; dizziness impacts 20-30% of the population at some times in their lives.
The balance system utilizes information from vision, proprioception, vestibular system, muscles, joints, and the central nervous system. Sometimes signals conflict and it is up to your brain to decide what is true. An example of this is when you are stopped on a train but the train next to you is moving. Your eyes send signals that you are moving but your ear and body signal that you are still. Your brain must pick which is true and this is how your balance is maintained.
What Should You Do?
Do not ignore your symptoms. Schedule an appointment to talk with your healthcare provider. Keep a record of the dates of attacks, if the attacks were prompted by an event, duration of attack, and any other symptoms or concerns.
Common Causes of Dizziness
- Vertigo, a sensation that you or the room is spinning, is often caused by an inner ear problem. Common inner ear causes of vertigo include:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): this occurs when the crystals of the inner ear are dislodged and migrate into a semicircular canal. BPPV is characterized by a brief sensation of spinning that typically lasts less than a minute. This sensation is triggered by specific changes in the position of the head. BPPV is diagnosed and can by treated by a series of simple tests.
- Infection or Inflammation: sometimes the semicircular canals swell and send incorrect balance signals. This can cause episodes of vertigo that last for hours or days.
- Meniere’s Disease: is a condition in which there is an abundance of fluid in the inner ear that causes increased pressure and swelling. It can affect the hearing and balance systems.
- Disequilibrium, a feeling of imbalance without the sensation of spinning, can have many causes including diabetes, anemia, head injury, and aging. There is a chance that the cause will remain unknown.
- Syncope, a loss of consciousness or fainting, may be due to a heart or blood pressure problem. If you experience syncope it is pertinent that you consult your physician to rule out serious health conditions.
These are just some of the reasons that vertigo and dizziness occur. It is important to work with your physician to determine the cause of your dizziness.